Maestro Petrossian Defies Health to Conduct Chorale

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Days before conducting the Erevan Choral Society in its annual Christmas extravaganza, Konstantin Petrossian was confined to a hospital bed, his fate hanging in the balance.

Maestro Konstantin Petrossian is in his element as conductor of the Erevan Choral Society.

The popular maestro, though, didn’t let a heart disorder prevent him from tending to business as usual, least of all a procedure that required two stents in his arteries.

One would never have suspected that the veteran music director had a health issue. With baton in hand, he led his 42-member ensemble with undeniable panache, joined by full orchestration.

The free concert took place Dec. 13 at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge with a full complement of fans who had no idea what their esteemed conductor had faced earlier.

“The man is unbelievable,” lauded Martin Hatzadourian, a veteran tenor. “Such a disorder would have hindered a lesser man. Not the maestro. The show went on as scheduled. He was determined to carry out the mission. He has our respect and our blessings.”

Others in the chorale shared the same sentiments and were not about to be deterred in a Boston tradition that celebrates its golden anniversary this year. Many felt the maestro was at his very best despite any discomfort he may have felt.

At least one physician warned him about making an outside appearance. A week before, he had suffered a second seizure within the month that required an electronic shock treatment. Another doctor told him more encouraging news.

“You can try, but just take it easy.”

The 59-year-old maestro was already convinced. “How can any conductor take it easy?” he told himself. “I decided to go ahead with the concert.”

Like he had always done in the past, the maestro paid a visit to the cemetery and asked for a blessing from his late predecessor, Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Minassian, who passed away in 2008. Hayr Oshagan had been an icon in the music world for more than 40 years, directing the Erevan Choral Society from the confines of a wheelchair.

He was an indefatigable promoter of Armenian music, shaping a small group of dedicated amateur singers into one of the cultural pillars of the Greater Boston Armenian community. His legacy became the inspiration that has motivated Maestro Petrossian over the past six years.

“I asked Father Oshagan to give me the strength to do this concert,” Petrossian admitted. “I was on medication and thought I was going to slip away. Hayr Oshagan was my best friend. He guided me.”

Last April, the chorale dedicated a concert to the victims of the genocide during the Centennial. Like all complimentary concerts, a reception followed where musicians and guests got to mingle. Even there, few if any outside the group knew of Petrossian’s condition.

The Erevan Choral Society continues to entertain audiences under Maestro Petrossian’s direction, ever since the death of founder Hayr Oshagan Minassian in 2008.

The maestro admitted being fatigued but exhilarated following the two-hour ritual.

His vast resume also includes the Armenian Chorale of Rhode Island, a number of sound tracks, theater music, and the Armenian Union of Composers. He co-founded the Armenian Chorale of Worcester.

“If I didn’t show up, many people would have been discouraged,” he confessed. “I told the orchestra and chorale before the concert that if I couldn’t finish to please go ahead without me. Every year, our music has been a gift to the community. This year, the gift was even greater—my survival!”

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Maestro Petrossian Defies Health to Conduct Chorale

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